out of Five
Running time: 90
Hugely enjoyable, frequently hilarious and genuinely moving documentary that plays like a real life Spinal Tap.
What's it all about?
Directed by former Anvil roadie Sacha Gervasi, this documentary tells the story of Canadian metal "demigods" Anvil, who had a brief taste of fame (and the respect of their peers) in the ‘80s before fading into obscurity. Formed in 1978 by best friends Steve 'Lips' Kudlow and the coincidentally-named Robb Reiner (no relation), Anvil have never given up and are, in fact, still going, with both men well into their 50s and working tedious day jobs to ensure that they can keep living their rock 'n roll dreams.
The film follows the band as they embark on a disastrous European tour (shades of Spinal Tap supporting a puppet show) and hook up with their old producer Chris 'CT' Tsangarides to record their 13th album (their other 12 albums were cheaply produced by an indie label and are no longer widely available). Then the band get an invitation to play a metal festival in Tokyo, but they're wary after their Europe experiences and unsure of the reception that awaits them.
It's a good thing that the film includes footage of Anvil playing a huge metal concert in the early ‘80s (complete with the likes of Lemmy from Motorhead and Slash from Guns N’ Roses talking about how terrific they were), because otherwise you'd swear that this was a Spinal Tap-style mockumentary. In fact, at times, it's so Tap-like that it's actually hard to watch, from emotional, Tufnell-esque arguments to hilariously awful gigs – there's even a scene where they sing an early unrecorded hit ("Thumb screws!") while being interviewed in a cafe.
What really makes this work is the moving portrait of the friendship that emerges between Lips and Reiner, coupled with their obvious love of music. That said, you can't help feeling that they're very lucky that their wives and families are so understanding.
Anvil! The Story of Anvil is a superbly made documentary that is fully deserving of the Spinal Tap comparisons and is, by turns, hilarious and deeply moving. Unmissable.
Anvil! The Story Of Anvil (15)